Tuesday, May 2, 2017

May 2

Judges 15:1-16:31; John 2:1-25; Psalm 103:1-22; Proverbs 14:17-19

I have to admit, Samson is not one of my favorite Bible stories. I wish I liked it more; it is actually a great story with lots of plot twists and adventures. But it's hard for me to get behind a story where I don't really like the hero all that much. Samson has always struck me as sort of hotheaded and vengeful. But the Lord does use him mightily. He is another example of God using whomever he desires to accomplish his will. And Samson does seem to have a strong faith despite his quick temper and weakness for the wrong kind of woman.

I was glad to move onto the New Testament and read about Jesus' first miracle at the wedding in Cana in John 2. Jesus, too, has a sense that God is using him for the Almighty's purposes in the Almighty's good time. Jesus is ready and patient for that time. But just about the time I am settling into some nice safe stories about Jesus, we come to John 2:13-22. Jesus goes into the temple and sees men selling and trading in the temple, so he makes "a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area," scattering coins, overturning tables, and basically yelling at them to get out (vs. 15-16). Hummm, that description doesn't sound too different than the actions and attitude we just read about with Samson.

This idea of righteous anger has always been hard for me to navigate. I struggle with being too quick to anger and I would love to think that it is always righteous. But, sadly, it's mostly when I am not getting something my own way. How does it look to feel that same kind of anger when it comes to things not going God's way? Maybe I can find a new appreciation for Samson when I think about his anger being on behalf of God's name. I know I appreciate that in Jesus. He stands up for what is right and just. I am glad we have a God like that.

I feel what I think is righteous anger towards a few members of my family today. Their choices have caused much pain in their own lives and that pain then extends down to those closest to them. Oftentimes they cannot see that they are the cause of it all. I am sure all those people in the temple probably didn't see anything wrong with what they were doing the moment Jesus walked in. How can I, too, take up my whip? How can I drive out the evil? Especially when they may not want it driven out? 

My answer today is to pray. I feel called to hit my knees and beg for God to extend mercy and lead them to repentance. Others are taking action, difficult actions, on their behalf and I am glad. This is righteous anger manifest. May we not fear doing bold and, sometimes, very unpopular things in the name of the Lord Almighty. 

I have to close this post with something from Psalm 103. I absolutely love this psalm and it is truly a balm to my soul today. It gives me hope for those in my family who refuse to follow him. "The LORD is compassionate and gracious...he will not always accuse....he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us" (vs. 8-12).

- Mary Matthias

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